#SampleSunday - The Christmas Witch

Available as print edition and e-book. 

No, and again no!” Infuriated, Befana, the witch, beat her broom on the conference table. “I’ve been in business for nearly three thousand years. But I haven’t yet come across that much false holiness.”
Befana, it was only a suggestion to go abroad in the future.” The infant Jesus tried to appease her. “Nevertheless, it should be in your own interest to open up new sales opportunities.”
Hah! Now, after you have destroyed my local market, you’re coming with that! Countless generations of Italian children were happy and pleased with the gifts I brought them on the 6th of January.”
If they aren’t satisfied any more, you should quickly consider some innovations to boost the demand,” Santa Claus interjected.
I don’t have to think about that,” Befana snapped at him. “My gifts are as good as ever. Respectable Trentine craftwork. But you, you’ve got the children insatiable. First the infant Jesus with more and more pompous Christmas presents! During the last centuries you’ve also heated up the consumerism, because you started dropping off gifts already one month before me. And since some decades even Saint Lucy crowds in, instead of remaining in her Sweden where she belongs.”
Oh Befana, how much I would like to limit myself to the Swedish market. You don’t even have snow everywhere.”
And it’s bright in Italy even in winter,” Befana crowed. “Actually, here no one needs your lights. – That’s pressure to consume – nothing but pressure to consume.”
Saint Lucy burst into tears. “What am I supposed to do then? In Sweden, there’s now electric lighting everywhere, in the houses and on the streets. My festival of lights is only folklore for the tourists. I am less and less in demand.”
Di-ver-si-fi-ca-tion.” Farmhand Ruprecht was full of his own importance. “That would have been the right strategy. But by now you’ve missed the boat.”
Yes, you super strategist!” Now Lucy got angry, too. “You and Santa Claus, you have rented reindeer and a sleigh, and under the guise of international understanding you spread your legend of Santa Claus all over the world.”
Take it easy now, guys.” Infant Jesus sighed audibly. “With all this squabbling we won’t get anywhere. Let’s return to the facts.”
Aye,” Santa Claus shouted. “And fact is that in the course of general globalization, also a cross-cultural demand for Christmas has arisen. With the traditional forms of work organization we can’t manage this demand any more.”
And we greatly welcome,” the Infant Jesus added, “when children of all religions believe in the Infant Jesus. Hence, we must act with strategic skill, so we won’t disappoint this faith.”
Well, you have a whole army of Christmas angels,” Befana grumbled. “In future let them carry presents around instead of just singing ‘halleluiah’.”
If you can’t cope with your work any more, stay away from our home markets in the future,” Lucy suggested. “I’ll put in a good word for you with the boss, so you can get some moose for the transport in addition to the reindeer.”
Moose? What do I want with moose,” Ruprecht protested. “Reindeer are our trademark.”
Phh.” Befana laughed with contempt. “You talk about di-ver-si-ca-tion, yet you don’t want to di-ser-vi-cize your own fleet. – Jesus, what a word! You probably don’t even know what it means!”
It’s called di-ver-si-fi-ca-ti-on: variety,” Ruprecht said.
You are hypocrites, yes!” Lucy interrupted him. “Befana is quite right. First you expand everywhere, grabbing with both hands. And now that you can no longer handle the many orders on time, you want to put us before your cart.” Lucy’s crown of candles began to waver alarmingly as she jumped up enraged.
Santa Claus jumped, too. He banged his rod at the table. “What’s this all about now, Lucy? You have benefited for ages from our globalization strategy. Your candle business registers two-digit growth rates every winter.”
But I’ve always limited myself to my candle business. I didn’t take anyone’s work away.”
"Not true at all,” Befana snarled at her. “Last year you distributed candies and biscuits with the volunteer fire brigades. And you were even sloppy with it: all industrial products. Some children were not allowed to eat anything, nothing of it, because of their food allergies!”
Lucy sighed. “Meanwhile I know, I screwed up. I shouldn’t have listened to Santa Claus.”
I meant well,” he defended himself. “Could I guess that you only know a thing or two about candles and otherwise have no clue?”
The infant Jesus was tearing his curls. “Thus arguing doesn’t help,” he repeated. “It’s already the end of November – we need a solution. Quickly. Lucia, Befana, please! Help us!”
I can’t do more than I did so far,” Lucia regretted. “After the disaster of last year, I realized I’d better concentrate on the core business. I’ll stick with my lights and that’s that!”
Lights!” Farmhand Ruprecht shouted. “That’s the solution. We extend our action period up to Candlemas and integrate our own gift activities into a second Festival of Lights of Lucia.”
Uh, well…” Lucia made a skeptical face.
And in ten years you’ll be roping in even the Easter hares,” the witch jeered. “Without me! – Lucy, don’t get wrapped up in this!”
Befana grabbed her broom and left the other participants of the conference behind, spechless.

 Sample from "Magical Stories". Short story collection. Print and e-book. English edition of "Magische Geschichten".
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